The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on November 5, 1975 · 59
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 59

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Wednesday, November 5, 1975
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59
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.-AX Eos Anselcs States BY CHARLES CHAMPLIN Times Entertainment Editor TWO NEW FILMS PLANNED A Ding-Dong King Kong Battle IEW f"" t & i1 . " V .5- "- 1 !'J 'J. f ' - i s - s A i S -j" mm"tm , ' " PART IV WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1975 JACK SMITH New Channels to Explore LI " The saga of King Kong did not end in a burst of machine-gun fire atop the Empire State Building in 1933. It only began. There were sequels ("Son of Kong," "King Kong Escapes") and now, in an epic struggle befitting the screen's greatest monster, a giant studio and a giant independent are launching competing multimillion-dollar updated versions of the classic. The legal fireworks Legan last summer and are not likely to be resolved for months and possibly years. Universal, sensing that "King Kong" would be a natural vehicle for the Sensurround sound system that made its noisy debut with "Earthquake," began negotiating with RKO General for the rights to remake the film first done by RKO in 1933. But the veteran Italian producer, Dino De Laurentiis, who has since transferred his operations to Beverly Hills, had coincidentally had the same idea and had been in direct contact with Tom O'Neil, an old friend who heads RKO General. Trumpeting the Fact It was De Laurentiis who signed the deal and got the rights (for $200,000 plus a percentage of the gross). He took trade ads in May to trumpet the fact. A few days later Universal filed suit in Superior Court in Los Angeles against RKO and De Laurentiis, charging among other things breach of contract, fraud and intentional interference with advantageous business relations, and seeking $25 million in damages. Depositions were taken but the suit has not been either dismissed or set for trial and it may not come to trial because Universal has now taken a different legal tack. Late in October, the studio filed suit in federal district court claiming in essence that the basic ingredients of "King Kong" are in the public domain. The suit, which named RKO and De Laurentiis as defendants, along with Richard Cooper, whose late father Merian C. Cooper had coauthored and redirected the movie, seeks a confirming judgment from the court that the copyright is invalid and that Universale movie would not constitute an infringement of the copyright. In effect, said Universal, we need not have bothered negotiating for the rights. Meantime, both projects are zooming ahead. De Laurentiis already has a first-draft script from Lorenzo Semple Jr., a director (John Guillerman), studio facilities at MGM and a production designer. "We start casting in December," says De Laurentiis. He estimates the budget at between $10-$12 million. Paramount is likely to distribute the picture. Benefit of the Doubt At Universal, producer Hunt Stromberg Jr. is putting a team together, with Joe Sargent as the director. "I've made hundreds and hundreds of pictures," De Laurentiis says. "And my experience is, if there's any doubt, pay the money. If we bought rights we didn't need to buy, that's a waste of money. But I'm a private company; I prefer the benefit of the doubt. I don't want to take the risk of making a picture for $12 million and then find suits from RKO, etc." One specific question is whether Universal can use the title "King Kong," which the De Laurentiis people believe is covered by RKO's registration with the MPAA and is thus RKO's to license to De Laurentiis. The matter of the copyright is legally very complex, in-Plcasc Turn to Page IS. Col. t i "Mm,.,,. ,. if. I KONG IN ACTION-There's more Kong to come, if films planned by Dino de Laurentiis, Universal see light of projector. De Laurentiis, RKO and Universal are involved in litigation. Times ptioio. The Governor Steps Out 1 Anything Goes in Sand Traps of Baja 1000 BY BETH ANN KR1EB Times Stall Writer BAJA We should have realized right off what we were in for at the Baja 1000 when the money collector at the Ensenada toll road refused to accept pesos and demanded we pay in dollars and cents. Walter Prince, a chain-smoking, beer-chugging janitor who, among his other accomplishments, taught the Shah, of Iran to water ski, had brought his big blue limousine to escort us to the race in style befitting the Martin Racing Team's Moral Support Squad. Actually, the limo was to serve as the roving pit vehicle for the Martin team, two L.A. novices who had entered a homemade,, two-seat dune buggy in the same class in which former Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones was competing. But one of the charms of off -road Baja races reputed to be some of the most sadistic events in the history of the wheel is that no experience is necessary, apparently for either the drivers or the race officials. Last year when the Mexican government was running the Baja 500, officials never showed up at checkpoint five, thus invalidating the times clocked for a large portion of the race and jumbling the finishing order of the winners. In last year's Please Turn to Pace I. Col. t 1 j - When I got our second television set last Christmas it wasn't with the idea of watching both sets at the same time. I simply thought that a set in the bedroom would make it possible for my wife to watch something she especially wanted to see while I was at work in the den. I P can't work when the set is on in the living room. One unforeseen reward, though, has been that she can watch a program of her choice in the bedroom while I watch something else in the living room. Thus we are able to indulge our separate tastes, which is one of the 1 goals, as I understand it, of women's liberation. It has been interesting to notice how our tastes diverge. Sunday evening, for example, I happened to watch "The , Incredible Machine" on KCET while she was watching ; "Airport 1975" on the Z channel. j I certainly don't mean to imply that she would ordinari- ly prefer a Charlton Heston melodrama to an educational film about the wonders of the human body. But "Airport" ' ! started at 9 o'clock and "The Incredible Machine" at 10, . and of course by that time she was already hooked on i "Airport." As she often does when she's watching the tube and I'm ; working, she called me away from my typewriter to j watch certain scenes she thought I ought to see. That is 1 another of the unforeseen rewards of owning a second set. , Thus, I saw Gloria Swanson board the ill-fated 747 air-I liner. I must say, she looked good. So did Myma Loy. It i must be their bones. She also called me in to hear Helen Keddy sing. "She's a nun," she said, which explained why I Ms. Reddy was wearing a habit. ' She was singing to keep the other passengers' minds off ' the fact that a small airplane had crashed into the 747, making a large hole in the flight deck, disabling Efrem ! Zimbalist Jr., the pilot, and blowing the co-pilot and flight ! engineer out into the stratosphere. 1 "Who's flying the plane?" I asked. ! "Karen Black." "Karen Black is a 747 pilot?" "No. She's a stewardess. She's got it on automatic." "Who's the little girl?" I could tell the little girl was dying by her courageous smile and the way the passengers kept looking at her. "She's on her way to Los Angeles for a kidney transplant." I'll admit I would have liked to see Karen Black get the plane through, but I had read an editorial in the paper saying "The Incredible Machine" ought to be seen. It was the first time I had ever read an editorial recommending a television show and I didn't want to miss it. When it started she thought she ought to switch over 1 from "Airport," but I pointed out that she had already invested an hour in that imperiled 747 and its passengers, and might as well see it through. Besides, I wanted to know how it turned out. "The Incredible Machine" was not only educational, but exciting and beautiful. Not even the historic motion pictures of our astronauts walking on the moon were as i wondrous as the camera's exploration of the human inter- ior. I felt like a tiny spelunker in some fabulous cave, rap-pelling down a spooky esophagus into the eerie chambers of the stomach, watching blood vessels jostling each other " ; like canoes in a narrow passage and spermatozoa swimming upstream like polliwogs toward the fateful rendezvous that only one in a million would keep. The two shows ended only a few minutes apart, and af-t erwards we compared notes. "Did Karen Black bring it through?" I asked. "She kept it flying until Charlton Heston got there in a helicopter." She told me the rest of it, but I don't think I have the i right to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Since I may already have created some suspense, though, I ought to say that Helen and Gloria and Myrna come through OK , and the little girl gets to Los Angeles in time for the kidney transplant. I tried to describe "The Incredible Machine." "You saw the inside of a stomach?" she said. I realized there is no way to make a person see that the inside of the stomach is quite beautiful, in a surrealistic way, unless she's seen it herself. Monday evening we went our separate ways again. She watched a movie where Orson Welles tries to keep every- thing as it was in 1925, the only year he was ever happy. It sounded too gothic for me. ' As I prefer programs that make some intellectual demand on the viewer, I watched the Rams and Eagles on : Monday Night Football. It's especially challenging if you concentrate on the interior line play; That's another unforeseen reward. With two sets, there's a 100 better chance that at least one of us will bring some culture into the house. SURFACING SOCIALLY-Gov. Jerry Brown and the fifth Baron Harlech, at right, socialize at the black tie dinner dance given by singer Helen Reddy, center, and her husband Jeff Wald for Harlech and his wife upstairs at the Bistro. The governor arrived early, but he left before dinner was served. For more details see Jody Jacobs' story on Page 2. : 1 t - - V. t . . . . - Li TV FUTURE: PART III Picking the Network Lock This last of a three-part series on cracks in the commercial networks' facade concentrates on new ways of bringing quality programs to viewers. BY DICK ADLER Times Staff Writer Nobody on any side of the electronic fence thinks that commercial television networks will or should ever completely disappear. They offer far too many services, everything from news and sports to daytime programming, that would be unavailable elsewhere. But there are definite signs and portents that say the absolute lock that ABC, CBS and NBC have historically had on the majority of American viewers and advertisers is weakening. The case of Space: 1999 is one such sign. Rejected by all three networks, this expensive ($275,000 per hour episode) and moderatel intelligent import from Britain's commercial Independent Television Corp. is now seen on 155 stations across the country, and its ratings range from the satisfactory to' the spectacular. More often than not, it is being slotted by network affiliates into time periods usually reserved for heavily promoted network series. Backed by an Empire The NBC affiliate in Houston airs it instead of the just-canceled The Invisible Man; in Omaha, the CBS station preempts Good Times and Joe and Sons to schedule it; in Boston, it replaces Happy Days and Welcome Back, Kot-ter on the ABC affiliate; Cincinnati viewers see it in place of Cher. Altogether, more than 70 network affiliates have jettisoned prime-time fare in its favor, and the rest schedule it during the peak prime-time access hours of 6:30 to 7:30 or 7 to 8 p.m. (Locally, KHJ-TV Channel 9 airs it Saturdays at 7 p.m.) Space: 1999 is backed by the vast television empire of Sir Lew Grade, one of the few individual producers in the , world with his own network. He can afford to make 24 episodes of such a lavish series with his own money and then offer them as a complete package. But its success points the way for other such widely syndicated projects (it is seen in more than 100 foreign markets as well). If just once or twice a year a powerful combine of major independent American producers got together to finance some worthy television series that had been rejected by the commercial networks, that would mean at least one or two hours that viewers could choose to spend away from the networks' increasingly lugubrious prime-time jungles. One of the biggest problems facing the producers of syndicated shows is how to get their products to the stations that show them. ITCs American office now must make certain that 155 separate prints of each Space: 1999 episode are made each week and then shipped (or "bicycled," as the process is known in the trade) to everyone from Boston to Los Angeles in time for weekly air dates. This is a tedious and expensive procedure, usually ac-Pleast Torn to Page 17, Cot 1 THE VIEWS INSIDE LEGEND, PAST AND PRESENT-Erte, 83-yeor- his Art Deco illustrations, with a portrait of old design legend who changed an epoch with himself as a young Paris hopeful in the '20s. Times pholo by Kathleen Ballard. FATHER OF ART DECO Erte Keeps Up With the Times BY ALAN CARTNAL COOKS: "Allan Nevins on History," compiled and introduced by Ray Allen Billington, by Robert Kirsch on Poge 2. MOVIES: "Craiy Mama" by Kevin Thomas on Page 12. Six short films by Kevin Thomas en Page 14. MUSIC: Mam! Nixon and Leonard Stein at the B!ng Theater by Walter Arlen on Page 13. Brent Brace at the Pilgrimage by Leonard Feather on Page K). Dean Scott at the Playboy Club by Dennis Hunt on " Page 12. STAGE: Long Beach Civic Light Opera's "Jesus Christ Superstar" by Dan Sullivan on Page 15. "The Father" at Inglewood Playhouse by Lawrence Christon on Page 12. "Monsieur Erte. I just thought you'd like to know. Warren Beatty is here " says a Hollywood press agent to the S3-year-old fashion legend. "Pardon?" is the reply. Someone else in the crowd wants to know what Erte thinks of Cher. "Pardon?" repeats the maestro. Erte, whose work for six decades has influenced the worlds of art, theater, opera, dance and fashion, tries to keep up with the times. "I know the Beatles," he says. "I did an illustration of them for one of their books. And I think Mick Jagger is fantastic. He wears fantastic things." But it's not really very important if Erte, who changed an epoch with his Art Deco fashion illustrations and costumes, finds it difficult to keep up with the current crop of pop princes and movieland royalty. After all, this is the man who dressed Sarah Bernhardt; who danced with Isadora Duncan; who hobnobbed with "Coco" Chanel in her Paris salon; who was called 'a nice kid" by Louis B. Mayer when he came to MGM in 1925 to do costumes for films, including the silent version of "Ben-Hur." Yes, thinks Erte, fashion has been a good life. And he doesnt care who knows about it The official reason for his recent visit to Los' Angeles was to open yet another one-man showing of signed, limited serigraphs at the Circle Gallery, Ltd. here. Yet, unof-, ficially, Erte is beating the drums for a new autobiogra-' phy that is hitting bookstalls next month. "I call it Things I Remember,' " he says. "I dont call it a memoir, because I cant seem to remember everything." But even the photographs are like whiffs of heavy nostalgia. Especially those of the young Erte who caused sensation in the social world of 20s Paris making entrances into high society galas dressed in total gold lame Please Turn lo Pace 6, CoL 1 AND OTHER FEATURES Dear Abby Page 7 Comics Poge 19 Bridge Page 8 Jody Jacobs Page 2 Call Sheet Poge 9 On Fashion Page 8 Television Pages 17, 18, 20. 1 1

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